If you’re a migraine sufferer, then you know that a complex migraine is much more than a headache. A migraine can render you immobile with the severe pain and additional symptoms.
What are complex migraines?
Something important to note is that a complex migraine is not directly recognized as a health condition. Rather, it’s more of a description of a more severe migraine. Since terms like “complex” or “complicated” are relative terms, they are moreso opinions than actual diagnosis.
However, a migraine itself is a real thing. Some can be more severe than others. By definition, a migraine is a throbbing and persistent headache that often affects just one side of the head. What makes a migraine different from a stress or a tension headache is that it is accompanied by blurred vision and nausea or vomiting.
Causes of a Complex Migraine
Everyone is different and may have different triggers that cause their migraine. Some of the most common triggers have been found to be:
• Changes in hormone levels in women. When the amount of estrogen fluctuates, there is a greater chance of migraine in women who are prone to getting migraines.
• Caffeinated beverages can cause headaches.
• Conversely, withdrawal from caffeine, that is, not having any caffine after your body has become used to it, can also trigger a migraine.
• Alcohol, especially wine is a known migraine trigger
• Experiencing high levels of stress at work or home can trigger a migraine
• Bright lights from artificial lighting or sunshine can induce a migraine
• Lound sounds, different odors, like perfume, air freshener, secondhand smoke, etc., can also aggravate a migraine
• Intense exercise or physical activity can cause a migraine
• Changes in your personal sleep pattern – losing sleep, getting too much sleep, changing your normal rhythm can all induce a migraine
• Taking medications can trigger a migraine. Headaches and migraines can often be a side effect of medications including contraceptives.
Complex Migraine Symptoms
Sometimes, it’s difficult to know whether you’re experiencing a routine headache or if you have a severe migraine. The key to realizing which you have is paying close attention to and identifying the symptoms.
The most common symptom of a migraine is the deep, pulsating, throbbing pain. The pain is usually limited to one side of the head.
Along with the head pain, migraines cause blurred vision and sensory sensitivity. Things as mild as a bit of light shining into a room or a soft sound can seem much brighter and louder than usual.
Some people who suffer from migraines also report an aura or a series of jagged lines in their vision. This usually lasts from 15 minutes to an hour.
Migraines often come along with a feeling of nausea. This is typical in situations in which there is severe pain present anywhere on the body.
Signs that a migraine is about to occur
While migraines seemingly happen out of nowhere, chronic migraine sufferers have reported that they know when a migraine is about to come on when the following things occur:
• Lack of sleep – The day or night before they get a migraine, chronic migraine sufferers have said that they don’t get a good sleep in. This is not only an inconvenience, but lack of sleep itself causes a headache. When you partner this with a migraine, it can cause extremely severe pain symptoms.
• Depression or Mania – People report that before their migraine hits, they have a wave of depression or even excitement. The imbalance of mood could explain why those who suffer from depression are more likely to also suffer from migraines.
• Head-cold symptoms – Some people who have migraines experience a stuffy nose, sore throat, or watery eyes along with their migraine. A study done by GlaxoSmithKline, found that of the people who had complained of having sinus headaches, about 90% of them were having migraines.
• Food cravings: Before getting a migraine, some people report that they crave certain foods like salt, pasta, or chocolate.
• Pain in the eye: Migraine sufferers also report that they feel a pain behind their eye both before their migraine and during their migraine.
• Neck stiffness and pain: Another common report from people with migraines is experiencing some neck pain right before the migraine hits. It’s believed that the neck pain is the early stage of the migraine.
• Increased Urination: Feeling the need to urinate more often could indicate that a migraine is on its way.
• Excessive Yawning: A 2006 study done in the Journal of Cephalalgia reported that 36% of migraine sufferers said that yawning was an indicator that they were about to get a migraine. It was different than normal “tired” yawning – it was more frequent and excessive happening every few seconds to minutes apart.
• Numbness or tingling sensation in the hands or face – It was reported in people who have primarily migraines with aura that they would get a pin and needle feeling in their legs on down one side of their body.
• Nausea or vomiting – Nausea or vomiting is a common side effect when someone is experiencing a migraine. However, a number of people also report that they feel nauseous right before they get a migraine also.
• Speech problems – Having racing thoughts or the inability to articulate could be an indicator that a migraine is on its way. Speech problems could also be indicators of a much more serious health conditions like a stroke – so be sure to contact your doctor if you have immediate concerns.
How to treat a migraine
When you have a severe migraine, your number one priority is how to make the pain and troublesome symptoms stop. Whether you’re more of a natural medicine fan or prefer to take over-the-counter or prescription medication, there are several things that you can do before and after a migraine hits to attempt to eliminate some of the symptoms.
The pre-migraine symptoms may be bothersome, but they do give you a chance to try and tackle the migraine before it starts. The moment you experience any of the symptoms that are signs that a migraine is about to occur, it may be helpful to begin migraine prevention practices. They could include one or more of the following:
Over-the-counter pain medication – You don’t have to have a strong prescription painkiller to tackle pain. You can purchase acetemetaphin, ibuprofen, or naproxen over the counter at your local pharmacy to try and get the migraine before it starts, or at least, cut down on the severity of the symptoms.
Taking a prescription medication – If your migraines have become bothersome, you might choose to see your doctor. He/she may prescribe you a stronger medication to attempt to treat your migraine. You might be directed to take the medication as soon as you realize you may be getting one. Or, you might be told to take the medication after the migraine begins. Whatever directions you are given to take your medication, be sure to follow them exactly.
Lavender Oil – Maybe you’re not one for taking medications. This is perfectly acceptable. You can try inhaling lavender oil. Simply place 2-4 drops into a pot of boiling water, and inhale the steam. This has been shown to be helpful with eliminating the symptoms of some migraines.
Peppermint Oil – Migraines are believed to be caused by the constricting of blood vessels. Peppermint oil have been shown to promote blood flow and help open up closed blood vessels. You can inhale peppermint oil directly from the bottle, or you can put a few drops into a pot of boiling water and inhale the steam.
Basil Oil – Not only does basil make pizza taste amazing, it also is known as a natural muscle relaxant which can help ease tight and strained muscles that can exacerbate migraine pain.
Changing Your Diet – A great way to relieve migraines is to stop them well before the symptoms begin. One of the most effective ways to lower the frequency of migraines is to make changes in your diet. Everyone is different, but some of the most common foods that are migraine triggers are dairy, chocolate, peanut butter, meats that have nitrates in them (bacon), avocado, bananas, onions, etc. You might start to keep a food journal in order to keep track of which foods indeed trigger your migraines.
Massaging Your Scalp – We’ve all had our hair washed at a salon. Having your scalp massaged is one of life’s little pleasures. Not only that, but many people report that massaging their scalp, right at the base of the skull reduces migraine pain.
Pressure Point Therapy – If you have a headache or migraine, try massaging the area between the thumb and pointer finger on the web of the hand. Place pressure on the area for 10-20 seconds and you’ll likely feel instant relief from migraine. You can try out this method by experimenting with how long you apply pressure to gain the maximum effect of relief.